Panthera Pardus (Panthera pardus fusca) പുള്ളിപുലി
The most secretive and elusive of the large carnivores, the leopard is also the shrewdest. Pound for pound, it is the strongest climber of the large cats and capable of killing prey larger than itself.
The leopard is most easily recognised by its rosette patterned coat and extremely long, darker tail. This large cat is sometimes confused in appearance with the South American Jaguar - the leopard though is less stocky and unlike the jaguar, its rosette markings are generally smaller and have no internal spots. The overall size of the leopard depends very much on the subspecies and location, with the largest animals growing to a length of nearly 5 feet with an additional tail length of some 3 feet - generally the male is between 20-40% larger than the female.
Although no other wild cat has such a wide spread range and diverse prey base as the leopard, it is still under threat in many regions. Once common in all parts of Africa apart from the deserts of the Sahara, it has now gone from most parts of northern Africa, apart from a few widespread areas of the Atlas mountains and is scarce in the extreme west of the continent. Subspecies of the leopard once common in the middle east, P.p.nimr and P.p.jarvisi are now all but extinct, as is the Persian leopard (P.p.saxicolor). In south east Asia and India its numbers have dwindled mainly due to hunting for its prized fur and through loss of natural habit due to the spread of the human population. The Korean Leopard (P.p.orientalis), also known as the Amur Leopard are extremely rare in the wild, suffering extensively from habitat loss.
Leopards are solitary creatures and predominately nocturnal. Each individual has a home range that overlaps with its neighbors; the male's range is much larger and generally overlaps with those of several females. Leopards continually move about their territory, seldom staying in an area for more than two or three days at a time. Ranges are marked with urine and claw marks and leopards announce their presence to other leopards with a rasping cough. Leopards also growl, roar and purr.
A litter includes two or three cubs, whose coats appear to be smoky gray as the rosettes are not yet clearly delineated. The female abandons her nomadic wandering until the cubs are large enough to accompany her. She keeps them hidden for about the first 8 weeks, giving them meat when they are 6 or 7 weeks old and suckling them for 3 months or longer.
Location: Thiruvananthapuram Zoological Gardens